How Genesis Responded During Three Pandemic Years
We had just experienced one of the Genesis Fund’s most remarkable years ever, with success in 2019 across all categories: lending activity, growth of the fund through investments and fundraising, and deployment of vital professional expertise to guide nonprofit partners moving projects forward.
And then came COVID-19.
Businesses shuttered. Offices emptied. Schools quieted. Families facing illness, eviction, lost work, food insecurity, and limited access to school and child care—a heightening of problems that existed well before the pandemic.
For so many of our neighbors, the ground underfoot was continually giving way.
The pandemic revealed a lot about people, our neighbors, and our country. It also spotlighted how systemic inequities result in disparate impacts on Black, Indigenous, and other people of color during times of crisis. COVID-19 took a disproportionate toll on the health and economic well-being of communities of color in Maine—one of the largest racial disparities in the nation.
Here at Genesis, we worked to map an ever-changing landscape to predict how the ongoing effects of the pandemic would ultimately impact the communities and organizations we seek to serve.
CDFIs like the Genesis Fund have a track record of stepping up in challenging times to assist where others can’t or won’t. Because of our structure and mission, we are able to be nimble, adaptive, and responsive to local crises.
The pandemic accentuated our responsibility to lean in when risk is highest. So, with the help of our community of donors, investors, and partner organizations, we did.
- We committed our energy, effort, and loans totaling $32 million over 2020, 2021, and 2022 to work that has been the Genesis Fund’s North Star for over three decades—supporting vital community development projects to stabilize, rebuild, and strengthen the infrastructure that makes it possible for families and communities to thrive.
- We provided payment flexibility and loan restructuring to reinforce our support of long-standing nonprofit partners—many of whom continued to provide essential services to members of their communities while facing their own pandemic-related challenges.
- And we helped frame up future affordable housing and community facility projects by providing more than 6,000 hours of technical guidance to local organizations over 2020, 2021, and 2022. By phone and by introducing borrowers and other partners to online meetings, Genesis staff worked throughout the pandemic to bring their plans closer to fruition.
Emerging from this difficult time, the Genesis Fund was stronger than ever, and we found that what we have known since the organization’s earliest days is as true as it had ever been: collective effort can bring stability to shifting ground. Even working through crisis, we can—we must—build a more prosperous, resilient, and equitable future for all.